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Seen by many in North America and Europe as a common weed, burdock is a sturdy biennial plant reaching up to 6 feet (2 m) high, with 18 inch (50 cm) wide leaves forming a rosette at ground level, with smaller versions growing up the thick flowering stem. Burdock root grows straight down as much as 3 feet (1M) into the subsoil. In mid-summer, the plant blossoms into a dense array of globular flowers with sticky bracts that cling to passing animals and people. These burs were in fact the inspiration behind the invention of Velcro fasteners, when the inventor found them sticking to his dog after an afternoon walk and he realized that objects could be fastened together in the same fashion. The plant grows on roadsides and waste places and around field boundaries throughout Britain, Europe and North America.
- Burdock is cultivated for food in Japan where it is called gobo. The root is consumed as an everyday vegetable, similar to a carrot. Native Americans were known to use the whole plant as food, boiling the root in maple syrup (which made it like candy) so that it could be stored for longer periods of time. A mildly bitter herb, it stimulates the release of gastric juices and aids digestion. Burdock is traditionally used to sooth the skin, helping to alleviate the irritation and discomfort associated with various causes. Animal studies have shown that burdock may possess liver protective qualities. Burdock has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as contain potent antioxidants. Traditional herbal medicine refers to burdock as a powerful blood purifier.
- Root (rhizome)
- Safe for use as a food or herb. For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.